According to the Rite of Marriage, there are two forms of vows that couples can take. In an effort to avoid being redundant, I’ve combined the similar parts of the vows for this series. The questions of intent (the previous three posts in this series) are the same no matter which form of the vows a couple chooses. This week as we begin our reflection on the vows themselves, the soon-to-be married Marie Evans is reflecting on what it will mean when she takes her fiancé to be her husband.
My first instinct is to say this reminds me of Ash choosing a Pokemon by shouting “I choose YOU!” If by some odd chance you also thought that, please tweet me using the handle below. It’s a sign the universe would like us to be friends. That said, I’m capable of reflecting upon marriage seriously, I promise! 🙂
What strikes me about this line in our wedding vows is the use of “take”. That verb implies a possessiveness that we know isn’t a characteristic of Love, and yet, it’s exactly what we say – I take you. Wedding vows aren’t just fluffy, happy words – they have meaning and undercurrents that tie them together, and they refuse to flounder and weaken. So why “take”?
I read this declaration two ways.
I take you to be my husband.
I take you to be my husband.
I am, by no means, a philosopher nor a student of philosophy. Caveat aside, one of the concepts that has remained with me from the one philosophy course I took during my college years is the intentionality of our actions. Within that context I find myself coming back and back again to Saint (!) John Paul II’s personalist philosophy. His works – as complicated as they are upon first, second, and third reading – have coalesced into one guiding philosophy in my own life. A summary of my own beliefs:
“We are free to love because Christ’s love for us has taught us how. We are free to make choices, and our choices begin to define us in accord with our own self-governance. Our decisions – good, bad, and ugly – help us become somebody, and we are called by the love of Christ to become the best somebody possible.”
So what will it mean when I stand before God, parents, siblings, friends on July 19th to be my husband”? Well… I see “I take you to be my husband” as a TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) version of this:
I acknowledge that you, and you alone, will be my husband; that there will be no others; that this is a choice I am making of my own free will with the full intent to become somebody better through this union, and I make this clear to witnesses because I take you – willingly, joyfully, and forsaking all others; I know that we are not merely players in a game but are two distinct individuals making a choice to become something bigger than what we previously were – to engage our vocation as husband and wife.
Marie is a twenty-something teacher-librarian in Virginia and “taking her husband” by the hand in marriage on July 19th this year. Her favorite things are reading YA novels, cheering loudly at baseball games, and cooking. She happily (and infrequently) blogs at http://catholiccoffeetalk.wordpress.com and you can find her (frequently!) on twitter at @MbernadetteE.